Here, in this bustling ghost town, wooden saloons, wraparound verandas, and mountainous terrain make for a paradoxical contrast to the Mexicans milling in the streets. The most attractive of the clapboard houses, painted in a rainbow of colors -- mango, lemon, blueberry, and cherry, are in the streets bordering the museum. The wood used to construct these houses was the return cargo on ships that transported copper to refineries in Oregon and British Columbia during the 1800s.
The principal attraction in Santa Rosalía is the Iglesia de Santa Barbara, a Gothic-inspired structure of galvanized steel designed by Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame) in 1884. It was originally created for the 1889 Paris World Expo, where it was displayed as a prototype for what Eiffel envisioned as a sort of prefab mission. The concept never took off, and the structure was left in a warehouse in Brussels, where it was later discovered and sent to Baja by officials of the mining company. Section by section, the church was transported then reassembled in Santa Rosalía in 1897. Step inside for the full effect of intricate stained-glass windows under a post-industrial arched roof.
Along with the church, the other site to see is the ex-Fundación del Pacífico (former Foundry of the Pacific), or Museo Histórico Minero de Santa Rosalía (tel. 615/153-0471). In a landmark wooden building overlooking the sea, it houses a permanent display of artifacts from the days of Santa Rosalía's mining operations. Inside the museum building are miniature models of the town, old accounting ledgers and office equipment, and samples of the minerals extracted from local mines. It's open Monday through Saturday from 8:30am to 2pm and 5 to 7pm. Admission is free.
Other sites of note are the Plaza Benito Juárez, or central zócalo (square) that fronts the Palacio Municipal, or City Hall, an intriguing structure of French colonial design. The streets of Constitución, Carranza, Plaza, and Altamirano border the square.
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